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Edinburgh Fringe: Coalition – Pleasance Dome

Writer: Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky

Reviewer: Deborah Klayman


It has been a long time since UK politics yielded a character interesting enough

to father a truly biting political satire. That is not to say that during the years of Tory and Labour rule there were not a raft of odious, double-dealing players – far from it – but years in opposition had set the third party somewhat aside from these grimy political games. It may be Clegg’s legacy that he has provided an effective target for this play, dealing as it does with power struggles and a party leader willing to sell out their entire manifesto to cling to the first vestiges of power the Lib Dems have seen since the 1930s.

Written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, the play is packed with cracking one-liners and satirical wit. Khan’s many years in politics give the backroom boys and girls added legitimacy, while a strong cast (comprised mostly of comedians) make the most of the well-written words and opportunities for slapstick. Deputy PM Matt Cooper, willing as he is to bully and bargain to get what he wants, teeters on the brink of disaster; with threats of defection and mutiny from those within his party sick of capitulation to Tory whims. Alastair Barrie gives a star turn as Geoffrey, every inch the gruff grassroots Northerner, who baffles Cooper by resigning on a point of political principle. The resulting by-election pushes Cooper into a series of disastrous decisions.

Despite channelling David Mitchell, Thom Tuck is marvellous in the rôle of the harassed Cooper, juggling phones while manoeuvring and scheming. Phil Jupitus is delightfully dastardly as Francis, and Jessica Regan, though underpowered vocally, gives a sterling performance as Claudia. The piece is fairly one-sided, concentrating as it does solely on the Lib Dems’ failings, but still remains the funniest farce on politics in recent Edinburgh history.

Until 26th August.

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